A Massachusetts teacher showed the ultimate sign of compassion when she took in one of her former students after his mother died from breast cancer.
Four years ago, Jake Manning became enrolled in Kerry Bremer’s class in Ayer, ABC affiliate WCVB reports.
At the time, Jake had just moved from Florida to Massachusetts with his single mother, Jean Manning, in order to find better care options following her terminal cancer diagnosis, according to a GoFundMe page set up for the teen, who has Down syndrome.
As it turned out, moving up north would become one of the best decisions that Jean made, as her son was quickly introduced to Kerry, who told WCVB that she “fell in love with him instantly.”
Over the next few years, Kerry bonded with Jake and watched as Jean’s health gradually declined. Kerry also knew that Jean did not have any family members who could care for the teen if the worse happened.
“As she got sicker that year, I just thought: ‘What is she going to do?'” Kerry recalled to the outlet.
So Kerry spoke with her husband, Dave Bremer, and their three children — Kaitlyn, Kristen, and Jonathan — and came up with a solution for Jean.
“[I said], ‘If you need a backup plan for Jake, then our family is happy to make him part of our family,'” Kerry told the outlet of her conversation with Jean. “She said, ‘I’ll sleep better tonight than I have in a long time.'”
After agreeing to care for Jake, the Bremer family began to get to know the teen and spent a number of weekends and holidays with him, WCVB reports.
“Jeanie and the Bremer family worked together to slowly help Jake become familiar with what could turn out to be his new family,” the GoFundMe page reads.
It was an easy process, too, as the Bremers quickly fell in love with Jake and his charming personality, just as Kerry did.
“When I first met him when he was in Kerry’s class, it was fun,” Dave explained to the outlet. “But when we first decided to do this and I met him again, he said: ‘You’re the dad? You’re Dave the dad?’ That was it for a very long time. I was Dave the dad.”
Then came Nov. 13. Jean, who had been undergoing chemotherapy treatments, put Jake on the school bus and went to take a nap. Sadly, she never woke up.
“My mom went to heaven,” Jake explained to WCVB. “She’s always in my heart.”
In a Facebook post on Nov. 15, Kerry announced the devastating news and confirmed that her family would be taking in Jake as one of their own.
“[Jean] fought a long, hard and often very unfair battle with cancer. We knew it would happen someday, but it was the last thing any of us expected this past Wednesday,” Kerry wrote. “As a result of her passing, we will love, protect and treasure Jake just as we promised.”
“He will live with us forever and we will keep her memory, her love, her determination and her beautiful smile alive in his heart and ours every day!” she added. “Fly high and watch over us every day. ‘Our boy; will miss you terribly, but we’ve got this! ❤️🙏😇 ‘Bremer, party of 6′”
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In the wake of Jean’s passing, a GoFundMe page was set up to help support the teen as he adjusts to living with his new family.
“Jeanie had lots of love to give but materialistically very little,” the page reads. “This is going to be a long road for all involved and I am hoping that we can come together with some help. No amount is too small. Please consider helping.”
Since its creation on Nov. 16, the campaign has raised over $53,000 — and Kerry recently expressed her gratitude for the efforts.
“The transition for Jake is going well. He is a trooper,” she wrote a few weeks ago. “He misses his mom dearly, but is very strong. The candid way he talks about her passing keeps us all on our toes.”
“I continue to be in awe of the kindness and overwhelming generosity of so many people, most of whom I don’t know,” she added.
But it’s not the money that Kerry is most thankful for — it’s her family’s newest addition, whom she said brought “everything” to them.
“We shared our boy and she will live on here in this house,” she told WCVB.